Reviews & features: Theatre, Anna Millar

53 reviews

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Mercy Killers

11 Aug 20133 stars

Broadway's Michael Milligan gives heart-breaking performance

This searing one man show manages to make politics personal, largely thanks to a heart-breaking performance from leading man and Broadway actor Michael Milligan. What could have been painfully simplistic or horribly over-played, is executed with…

Blam!

9 Aug 20135 stars

Glorious movie-based mayhem

In the world of Blam! the underdog is King. And this right royal ruckus has more than a few loyal servants, as a pumped-up crowd leap to their feet – after a high octane hour – to show their appreciation. Set in a bland office space, three men, and…

Chalk Farm

9 Aug 20133 stars

Insightful examination of London riots

When the London riots exploded in the summer of 2011, 24-hour news images of smashed-up cars, torched buildings and hoodie-clad ‘youths’ were propelled onto our television screens. The blame game began. David Cameron referred to the ‘pure and simple…

Making News

6 Aug 20133 stars

Phil Jupitus, Sara Pascoe and Dan Starkey in decent take on BBC news

To say it’s been a bad year for the BBC is to note that Edinburgh gets a bit busy over the festival. So the inspiration for Making News couldn’t be clearer. That it was penned by the scribes behind Coalition, last year’s smart take on the government…

The Shawshank Redemption

6 Aug 20133 stars

Omid Djalili and Kyle Secor in Stephen King's tale adapted for the stage

Given the warmth felt for the film adaptation of Stephen King’s prison-based novella, it’s little surprise that The Shawshank Redemption is one of the hottest tickets at this year’s Fringe. A tale of friendship and hope in the face of adversity, King’s…

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Anna

5 Aug 20134 stars

Badac Theatre present a brutal tour de force

A lift opens and we step inside. Emerging moments later, a stark, sterile basement corridor lies ominously before us. Bright strip lights buzz overhead, as a woman ushers us to stand against the walls. And so it begins: Badac Theatre Company’s…

The Confessions of Gordon Brown

4 Aug 20132 stars

A well-written one-man show that suffers from a lack of real revelations

Any biographical tale is only as strong as its leading character – and herein lies the rub with The Confessions of Gordon Brown. As one of Scotland’s best, and most divisive, politicians Brown was one of Britain’s most forgettable prime ministers. While…

[title of show] fuses musical theatre and real life at 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

30 Jul 2013

UK premiere of quirky US Broadway musical hit

Anyone who saw Daniel Kitson’s 2012 Fringe sell-out, about a writer writing a play about writers writing another play, will agree that the show-within-a-show format has grown serious legs in recent years. This year Patch of Blue Theatre stride out with…

Physical theatre production BLAM! promises 'Die Hard meets The Office'

10 Jul 2013

The Danish production is coming to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013

An elevator pings. Throaty laughter drifts round the corner and four beaming faces appear. ‘Coffee. We need coffee, please.’ Twelve hours ago, these caffeine-craving cohorts enjoyed a rowdy standing ovation in Reykjavik’s main theatre. Six hours ago…

Full programme announced for Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013

30 May 2013

New shows from Ontroerend Goed, Michael Nyman and Brendon Burns among highlights

After a month of being drip fed nuggets, the full Fringe feast has been revealed, with a whopping 2,871 shows performed by 24,107 artists in 273 venues across Edinburgh up for grabs. From X-rated puppet musicals and guerrilla style pop-ups to the London…

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Clinton The Musical

17 Aug 20123 stars

Ex-president inspires high-energy, catchy musical from talented ensemble

Former United States president Bill Clinton should offer any theatre production – let alone an all-singing, all-dancing musical – some great inspiration for material is a given. But, from his inauguration through to his sexual relations with ‘that…

Slice

7 Aug 20123 stars

Mel Giedroyc's debut is a bittersweet lunchtime treat

This promising playwriting début from Mel Giedroyc (of Mel & Sue fame) arrives at the Fringe fresh from a successful run at Glasgow’s Oran Mor earlier this year, and has lost none of its emotional verve in transit. Three troubled sisters congregate in…

Peter Panic

7 Aug 20122 stars

Dystopian Peter Pan fails to inspire an emotional response

Showing an altogether darker, dystopian view of JM Barrie’s titular character of Peter Pan, Function Theatre brings together a brutal tale of morality, mob rule and the power of the State, stripping Barrie’s oeuvre of its innocence in the…

Jigsy

6 Aug 20123 stars

Nostalgic yet brave tale of a comedian past his prime, starring Les Dennis

It’s a brave man who takes on the role of an ageing, fading comedian. Braver still, if you’re Les Dennis – as well known for his Family Fortunes success, as his more recent foray into the dismal world of Celebrity Big Brother. Both are swiftly…

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs explores impact of Apple on our lives

25 Jul 2012

Grant O'Rourke performs Mike Daisey's controversial play Edinburgh Fringe

When he died in October last year more than one million followers flooded the Apple website, sharing their memories of Steve Jobs. Commentators hailed him a modern day Da Vinci while pundits pondered the man affectionately known as Apple’s Messiah.

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Some Small Love Story

23 Aug 20114 stars

A gem with a young but talented cast

Theatrical tales about love – particularly love lost – can so easily be overly saccharine, lacking the depth and sentiment to truly engage. Not so here. Stripped back simplicity is to the fore, as four excellent young performers reveal two great love…

Eight

23 Aug 20113 stars

Eight beautifully-written stories impressively told

A selection of eight stories are impressively told here in monologue rotation. Among them are grieving art gallery owner Andre, Bobby, a struggling single Mum and Jude, a well-to-do lad coming of age on foreign shores. Ella Hickson’s characters are…

Doris Day Can F**k Off

23 Aug 20113 stars

Musical one-man experiment

The concept for Greg McLaren’s show should certainly be applauded: for a number of weeks he went round the UK communicating to people through song, taping his experience as he went. Accompanied by a sound deck, guitar and gold lame jacket, this is the…

An Instinct for Kindness

17 Aug 20114 stars

Dignitas tale told with dignity

Last year, Chris Larner accompanied his ex-wife Allyson to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland and watched as she drank a liquid that would swiftly end her life. Here, with just a simple chair as a prop, Larner recounts the days, weeks and years leading…

From the Fire

14 Aug 20113 stars

Tightly directed show based on New York’s Triangle Factory Fire of 1911

There is some formidable talent at play in this tightly directed show, telling the story of New York’s Triangle Factory Fire of 1911, in which hundreds perished due to poor working conditions. Although set 100 years ago, the themes resonate today, as…

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Shhh: The Musical

8 Aug 20112 stars

Enthusiasm let down by unoriginal script and forgettable songs

There is little doubting the enthusiasm of this young cast, as they do their best with a ‘romcom’ script about finding love in a bookshop. Sadly their energy is largely wasted on a script lacking in originality and punch. The characters are roundly…

Minute After Midday

8 Aug 20114 stars

Pared-down performance based on Omagh bombing

Pared-down performances resonate here as three very different stories are told, in overlapping monologues, from the day the Omagh bombing devastated Ireland. A young survivor, a widow, and the driver who left the car bomb on Lower Market Street, relive…

Toulouse-Lautrec: The Musical

8 Aug 20112 stars

Japanese one-man show dedicated but lacking in pace and musical gravitas

Toulouse Lautrec’s life was a colourful one, worthy of musical exploration, and this Japanese company’s dedication is admirable, in a one-man show, helmed by Japanese performer/songwriter Jun Sawaki. But while Sawaki undoubtedly offers his all to the…

Corn Exchange theatre company bring Man of Valour to Edinburgh 2011

27 Jul 2011

One-man action movie from acclaimed Irish company

It’s a scenario familiar to many. A lonely office worker tries to escape his humdrum existence, living out a fantasy world of swashbuckling make-belief and mind-blowing heroism. ‘Everyone can relate to it,’ says actor and co-writer Paul Reid. ‘It’s…

Four site-specific shows to catch at Edinburgh 2011

20 Jul 2011

What Remains and You Once Said Yes among highlights

What Remains. Theatre company Grid Iron celebrates ten years on the Fringe with this eerie piece set in the bowels of Edinburgh University. Music comes courtesy of composer David Paul Jones. Even in Edinburgh/Glasgow Poet Ishbel McFarlane takes the…